Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Oh what fancies we conjure up...

"The point is to get enough votes for the petition for the mainstream media to take notice."
I don't share your optimism on the scum media taking notice. They've ignored our pleas in the past. Disabled people have killed themselves as a result of disgraceful ATOS assessments. Was there an outcry from the Fleet Street filth? No, there wasn't. hundreds upon hundreds have testified to the brutality of government policy against disabled people. Have the Fail, Sun or Express ever taken our side? No, they haven't.

Petitions don't usually achieve anything. Mostly they're used in campaigns to make people feel better about themselves. The best thing about petitions is not the getting of thousands upon thousands of signatures; no, it's the engaging with people in the street who stop and ask what the petition is for. In my experience, and I've ran scores of petitioning and leafleting events; and,  for every 20 signatures you receive or leaflets you distribute, a three-minute conversation with a passer-by is more beneficial.

"When some of the gutter press realise the "shop a cheat" hotline is costing a shedload of money for next to no result, they will squeal like stuck pigs about the waste of taxpayers money."

No they won't. To begin with, the government will not allow this to appear as a failure. They'll massage and manipulate data to show the venture a success; and by the time a decent newspaper has got to the truth it'll be yesterday's news. Remember the Benefits' Integrity Project (BIP)? This was going to expose disability benefits' cheats and save the country a fortune. It ended up bringing a handful of people to court, not all of whom were convicted. That particular exercise cost scores of millions of pounds. There was no outcry from the right-wing press or media.
If, as the Mail Online shows is true, that 84% of those who responded to their poll claim to support the strike, this is indeed an irony of ironies!

Such a thing certainly put a smile on my face; and I imagine it seriously pissed off the Mail management, staff and many of its rabid dog readership.

Make it a criminal offence to maliciously report someone for benefit fraud.

The whole idea of grass lines leaves me cold. People being encouraged to spy on friends, family or neighbours just in case someone is getting something for which they've no entitlement. This kind of Big Brother quasi-totalitarian tactic isn't fit for decent society; it breeds a culture of disharmony rather than one of civility.

But then, isn't that exactly what this junta we have in power wants. They'd prefer to see working class people at each other's throats as this averts attention away from the destruction of the Welfare State they're carrying out.

Curtain Twitcher's of the World Repent;
you've nothing to lose but your nets!
Rather than us pit ourselves against one and other by using grass lines, why aren't we attacking this rotten lot of Bullendon boys for protecting their mates when it comes to cheating the country out of scores of billions of pounds every year - not some piddling 0.45% of DLA fraud. We should be venting our anger at the Eton mess who are flushing this country down the toilet with their ideologically focused austerity measures.

Calling for scum who whisper false accusations down the line to a government official to be prosecuted if found to have maliciously misreported a situation isn't the answer. We need to reclaim our societies; we need to politically educate people as to the real meaning of right and wrong; we need to identify the real cheats, those billionaire vampires who sustain themselves by bleeding us dry.

Stop fighting each other; it's costly a distraction. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

What's the TUC Doing in the Fight to Protect Disability Rights?

The TUC is already engaged in the struggle against this government's austerity measures, including those directed, most viciously in my view, against disabled people.

Indeed, the 26th March demonstration, which drew over half-a-million people into one of the largest ever protests ever seen on the streets of London was a TUC initiative. On that day, it's estimated that there were probably 20,000 to 25,000 disabled people on the march or at the rally. Someone also spoke on behalf of disabled people at the Hyde Park rally.

On the 11th May, the TUC supported the Hardest Hit march in London; and, again a message of support from Brendan Barber, speaking for the TUC, was sent to the Hardest Hit marches and rallies a few weeks ago on October 22nd.

The TUC is also active in other areas of disability rights; as expected we, with the support of affiliate unions, are pushing for the government to keep open the Remploy factories; we're arguing for an increase in the Access-to-Work budget, pointing out to the government the positive benefits this resource creates; we're strenuously promoting initiatives on the relationship between workplace stress and mental illness, and ways to counter these conditions.

The TUC also promotes Disability Workplace Champions. We're striving for this group of reps to gain the same industrial recognition as shop stewards, H&S reps and ULRs. Reasonable adjustments in the workplace is another area in which we assist our reps.

However, much of our energy is directed at opposing this government's cuts and their plans to dismantle both the NHS and our Welfare System. 

A number of members of the TUC Disability Committee, including its Chair, are supportive of many of the disability organisations and initiatives currently fighting against draconian government policy. They support Hardest Hit, Black Triangle, Disabled People Against the Cuts, as well as being closely associated in fighting against Disability Hate Crime and promoting Disability History Month.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Sense of Duty, to Whom?

The photograph below speaks volumes. That unholy link between majesty and military. The commemorations at the Cenotaph somehow cementing a common bond between fallen soldiers and the royals on display in their regimental regalia.

Rally to the colours
And die for your queen
Life ain't worth living
And death is obscene... 
The monarch in grave black her face a stony mask of duty for duties sake. Princes, princesses and dukes adorned in their uniforms of death.  

They're telling us to carry on answering the call to colours and they'll with dignity tread respectfully over our memories every November 11th. For there is no greater sacrifice than the surrendering of one's life in order to uphold an anachronistic social system, such as royalty.

Watching the choreography played out at the cenotaph every November brings home to me the real dignity that I have witnessed at small war memorials in different parts of London over the years. Some years ago I attended one such ceremony in Kennington Park. The small crowd, mainly of elderly men, was quite and dignified.

Afterwards we went for a pint. Naturally, the talk was about the war; yet there was no recrimination, lots of sadness tempered by laughter at the good times. Almost to a man, these old soldiers held firm to their Socialist ideals. They spoke most disparagingly of the likes of Churchill and Montgomery, who according to one ex-desert rat, "Would 'ave 'ad our fuckin' fag ration if 'e 'ad 'is way!"

A couple of my uncles who came to England in the 1930s and served in N Africa and Italy rarely spoke of their war experiences. But, there was one thing they couldn't stomach and that was the idea that they, or indeed many of their British Comrades, had fought for king and country. No, they were fighting the Nazis and what Nazism stood for. Thus, they regarded the ceremony at the cenotaph as an insult to the memory of all those who died fighting fascism. 

Why do we need the Poppy Appeal?

Why the necessity for a 'poppy appeal'? I looked at the Royal British Legion site for clarification and found that the monies collected from poppy sales go to help ex-service personnel with:

  • purchasing Electrically Powered Vehicles or scooters to give elderly or disabled veterans back mobility and a independent lives.

  • providing severely disabled people and their carers with much needed welfare break.

  • arranging bathroom adaptations which assist disabled people to perform basic functions in their home such as showering or washing safely.

Nobody, neither disabled soldier nor civilian, should have to depend on charity for such necessities. As a Socialist I believe the state should provide both medical and personal care at the point of need; and this should include any equipment and services needed to ensure full medical and care provision.

On the news yesterday there was a 'feel good' story about a little girl with quadriplegic cerebral palsy whose parents had raised the £40,000 needed to send her to the USA for an operation that would greatly improve her mobility. Of course her parents were grateful to those kind people who had contributed to their cause.

But why are disabled soldiers and children depending on charity for that which the state should fund.

In my work I see the state moving further and further away from its responsibilities for providing medical and personal care. There is a seismic shift coming in health care; and we are heading for massive changes in the provision of personal care and support for disabled and elderly infirm people.

This winter may well be a cold one; but for scores of thousands of disabled and elderly next spring will really bring a chill to their lives.